Things Fall Apart Symbolism

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Chinua Achebe wrote the book, Things Fall Apart, to fight against the stereotypical image of African people lacking in culture, which is what had been assumed by many people. He accomplished his goal in many different ways throughout the book, using a variety of linguistic devices. However, the device that stood out to throughout the storyline was the interesting and creative use of symbolism. There are many differences between the culture of the Nigerian people who are represented in the book and the culture of all the other people in the world. Sadly this unique culture had been portrayed badly by many other works, included the book, Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. Achebe wanted to show the culture in the positive light it…show more content…
During the passage when Okonkwo’s first crop was depicted, “Nothing happened at its proper time; it was either too early or too late. It seemed as if the world had gone mad” (Achebe23), it is seen that even though Okonkwo worked very hard, due to things beyond his control success was made difficult for him. Earlier in the book something of similar nature was mentioned, “…Okonkwo did not have the start in life which many young men had. He neither inherited a barn nor a title, nor even a young wife” (Achebe18). Likewise to his first crop, the beginning of Okonkwo’s life was never setting him up for easy accomplishment, though it was by no means his fault and he did work hard. So Okonkwo’s original yam crop is representational through parallelism to the beginning of his life. This symbolism shows that this culture works very hard, and the individuals deserve what they get through hard work. This combined with the symbolism of the locusts pushes back the primitive idea of the Nigerian people, which was the author’s goal.
An interesting place in Things Fall Apart where more typical symbolism was used was in the folk stories, specifically the story of the birds and the tortoise. It has many purposes for being in this storyline, such as foreshadowing, symbolism, and further showing of the deep and rich culture. The last one is the most obvious, as the story shows how they can make and tell tales much like we do. It makes it
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